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Hurts so tasty

I read this passage from a story by David Foster Wallace a couple of weeks ago. The protagonist is talking about his childhood “voices” he’d hear and the accompanying unendurable fun and delight:

Sometimes the experience of the voices was ecstatic, sometimes so much so that it was almost too intense for me—as when you first bite into an apple or a confection that tastes so delicious and causes such a flood of oral juices that there is a moment of intense pain in your mouth and glands…

For me, this sensation feels like my tongue is at full salivating capacity, all tastebuds are mobilized, and my jaw twitches and aches a little. Then I was trying to remember the last time when I ate something so delicious that it hurt. Certainly, the St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake, and the brown butter rhubarb bars, too. During my childhood, though, it was these treats blogged about some months ago on Seriouseats.com. They’re essentially like a very thin and airy toffee cookie: they’re made of caramel and baking soda and squished into a disk with shapes that you can crack around. In Seoul, they were sold by little old ladies in blue tents in the street, conveniently not too far from the exit of the piano school my sister and I attended. The consummate dinner-ruiner, my mother would yell at us if she found any sticky crumb traces on our faces or jackets. But I endured her pain and parental grief at this addictive cookie, because it was worth it for the pain of delicious pleasure, so strong that I almost couldn’t bear it after the first bites. That’s how good those were.

So, please share with the rest of the class: What have you eaten that made your mouth hurt in a good way?

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This Rubbermaid rubber spatula has a little hook on the tip of the handle, so when you place it in your steaming pot of sauce/toffee/soup/etc., it doesn’t fall in. Plus, the actual scraper part has a nook with which you can easily wipe clean the outer rim of your cookware. I only acquainted myself with it last week; where have you been all my life, humble piece of equipment?

Not much home-baking on this end recently, except to reheat (cinnamon raisin bread) or repeat staple recipes (olive oil granola) already bloggered on and rah-rahed about here. I am super dooper fatigued currently, as I spend my days helping open a restaurant. So why don’t I distract you now from my dearth of original material with photos of delicious items consumed at The Smile on Bond Street?

When it's too cold outside, have some woolen macarons (from Wool and the Gang)

I thought I’d feel warm and fuzzy inside if I ate those above, but I thought better: Let’s try some chocolate and brie on baguette for a French-y afternoon snack.

Oozy, gooey, and chewy

I know what you’re thinking: Eww. Yes, granted, this sandwich will not work for those who like to barricade their peas from their carrots on dinner plates, let alone their Laughing Cow from Nutella, but it works. The cheese lends the chocolate spread extra creamyness, and the omnipotent taste-booster, salt, gives it extra flavor. The brie acts like an enabler, but all for a beneficial effect, not like your college drinking buddy.

Three ingredients, so simple (cut, place on bread; slather on bread; heat), so come on out of your cave for a half hour. It’ll tide you over ’til the next equinox.

Should you find yourself snowed/sleeted/hailed/iced in with lots of fruit puree this winter, spend five to eight hours of your time making fruit rolls, pictured quite beautifully like perfect ringlets of Victorian hair here.

Happy New Year!

Or, balls to 2009! Was it a good year for you with lots of treats? It ‘sho was, on this end. I’ve learned a lot about many things sugar-coated, cream-filled, fried, brittled, and spun, and I’m looking forward to absorb twice as much and share them with you.  I wish you all a not-too-sweet new year and a toothsome decade.

If you’re lucky enough to take it easy at the office today, have a listen to this Brian Lehrer show about the best and the worst food gifts you’ve ever received. But before that, warm up by reading the comments on the show page. Maybe it is true that the Forking Fantastic ladies have a bad case of the giggles, but it goes to show NPR/WNYC listeners are not above others in that they too can be way too serious, or too juvenile, or just plain mean.

hazelnut kipferls

Alright, my holiday-baking friends: what doughs are you elbow deep in right now? Mexican wedding cake cookies? Pignolis? Or the gool ‘ol classic gingersnaps? If I can muster up the energy, I might whip up a batch or two of some hazelnut kipferls, which are lip-smacking cookies that don’t have a big enough presence in my life. Come find me sometime during Xmas day, and I might just have a few leftover. You better hope that there’s not another foot-tall snowfall, because you might just go weak-kneed after tasting these and then you won’t be able to get home. Which is fine, because I’ve missed you for the past four months and we can spend some QT together.